The Visalia Fox Theatre is looking for a new executive director after Vikky Escobedo announced her resignation effective in September.
Escobedo took over running the downtown Visalia landmark in the summer of 2019. Barely nine months later, the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the venue.
Escobedo isn’t leaving the theater with the doors locked, though: The Fox’s first scheduled concert since March of 2020 is an appearance by comedian Felipe Esparza on Sept. 17.
“This position has been everything and nothing like I expected it to be,” Escobedo said. “I had been on the job for nine months before we had to shut down indefinitely. We had to make adjustments that would make reopening possible — whenever it would be. I’m pleased to say that we have weathered this storm, thanks largely to generous support from donors. Now we’re in position to open our doors and entertain and inspire the community again.”
During the Fox’s nearly 19-month pandemic-caused closure, Escobedo started several revitalization projects on the 91-year-old building, including adding auditorium lighting to the Lyles-Porter auditorium, repainting the proscenium, stage walls, dressing rooms, offices, green room, and emergency exit hallways, and replacing the 92-year-old sewer line beneath the main lobby.
“I’m not sure we could’ve made it through the pandemic closure were it not for Vikky’s leadership,” said Max Lupercio, president of the Board. “We were forced to close our doors to the public and our main source of revenue dried up overnight. But despite the daunting prospects, Vikky stepped up to make sure we stayed afloat. She led and coordinated donor outreach and facility maintenance and renovations in an incredibly difficult situation. To say we’ll miss her at the Fox is an understatement.”
The Friends of the Fox board is currently looking for a new executive editor and hopes to have a replacement named over the next several weeks, Lupercio said.
The Visalia Fox opened in 1930 as a single-screen movie theater. In 1976, the auditorium was split into three screens. In 1996, the then three-screen theater was closed and the Visalia Fox was put up for sale.
Shortly after, Friends of the Fox was formed and started raising money to buy and restore the landmark theater. After a successful fundraising effort, the restored single-auditorium theater reopened in November 1999. Since then, the Visalia Fox has hosted a combination of live events and film screenings. The downtown institution is the home of the Sequoia Symphony and the Enchanted Playhouse.
The Visalia Fox Theatre is in the process of adding a full roster of events to the Fall 2021 season. Current planned shows include:
- Felipe Esparza, presented by Perico Productions — Sept. 17
- The Hodgetwins, presented by JMax Productions — Oct. 8
- The Sequoia Symphony Orchestra’s season-opening show — Oct. 16
- Mariachi Los Camperos’ Tradition, Art and Passion: A Day of the Dead in Mexico — Oct. 23
Information and tickets: https://www.foxvisalia.org/
James Ward covers entertainment, news, sports and lifestyles for the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register. Follow him on Twitter. Get alerts and keep up on all things Tulare County for as little as $1 a month. Subscribe today.